B.C. from Fairfield County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
For the past five years wind has been damaging the siding at different building of my condo complex. The buildings were sides when they were built more than 20 years ago and for the most part the siding has become weathered and a bit unsightly. However, the only time the Board repairs the siding is when it actually gets blown off of a building. Every time there is a repair it costs a lot of money and it looks terrible as the color doesn’t match the original. Wouldn’t it make more sense to simply replace all of the siding?
Mister Condo replies:
B.C., you have actually answered your own question quite nicely. I love it when readers make my job so easy! Your Board is likely facing the same challenge that many community associations face when it comes time to make a major renovation like replacing old and worn siding. The project requires a healthy Reserve Fund from which to draw the money to pay for it and many associations simply aren’t prepared. If that is the case where you live the repair would have to be funded through either a special assessment or a community association loan, neither of which are likely to prove too popular with the unit owners. What happens instead is what you are experiencing; patchwork repairs are done year after year until the siding becomes so aged and damaged that it must be replaced. Ultimately, that costs the community far more than simply addressing the problem head on and making the tough fiscal decisions required to maintain, protect, and enhance the association, which is the Board’s mission.
You would do well to advise your Board that there are solutions they may have overlooked. If you are close to any of the Board members, have a conversation. If you are not close to any of them, write a letter or send an email. Direct them towards your local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), in your case that would be CAI-CT at http://caict.org where they can learn about the perils of deferred maintenance and find the resources they need to address the problem. They may wish to speak with a lending specialist to arrange the needed funds. They may need to speak with a Reserve Analyst to address future issues. They may even need to speak with an attorney to address amending their by-laws if they don’t have the authority to borrow under your current by-laws. The bottom line is that they could use some help. Fortunately, help is only a mouse click away! All the best!